Sunday, October 2, 2011

Autumn Arrives in Casey Town

Although there were early rumors that pumpkins would be quite rare this fall, due to Irene's flooding and wind damage to local farms, these bright orange gourd-like members of the squash family have arrived at every plant nursery and grocery store.

Seen growing on the side of the road, right next to the Amtrak railroad tracks, and actually on Amtrak property, these yellow fall Mulleins are quite spectacular. Look at how green and healthy these plants stay, while all around them the other plants and grass are browning and shriveling up. This is not exactly the variety of wild mulleins I'm used to seeing growing near the track. Mary, my go-to gal for all thing horticultural, believes these are a cultivated version that have been deposited here by birds or sown by the wind. Most varieties of mullein are biennials, which means they send up leaves the first year and the flowers don't develop until the second year. Both first-year plant rosettes and second-year flower stalks may be seen in this photo, ensuring flowers for next year too. Perhaps in my yard, lol. If some of the first year rosettes jumped into my backpack, I wouldn't toss 'em out.

Detail shot of the roadside mullein in the photo above this one. Amtrak's northeast corridor tracks, going to Boston and points north is right at the top of this bank of stones and dirt.

A relatively rare Autumn Crocus. Although they look like the ones that come up in Spring, they are a different variety of plant altogether. They are also known as Naked Ladies, as the flowers appear well after the leaves disappear. The leaves around these flowers are actually leftover Day Lily leaves and a few weeds. I came upon these on a walk around town.

Jewel Weed, a natural antidote for poison ivy and other skin rashes, is flowering quite profusely now. The unassuming little orange flowers with red spots, are quite lovely when you really look at them, almost orchid-like.

A cultivated yellow honeysuckle climbing on a trellis near the road.

Along with pumpkins, Chrysanthemums are the ubiquitous sign that Autumn has arrived. While I love naturalized 'mums that are perennial and come up every year, I call the variety for sale in the fall "Hairdo Mums" as their forced blooms remind me of the helmet hairstyles of the 1960s.

This is a cool colored 'mum variety, though, white and pink. The white centers darken to a peach color as they age.

All the work I did pinching back my goldenrod during the summer has paid off now with voluminous stems of bright yellow flowers. If you leave the plants alone during the growing season, each plant will only have a few very tall stems that will fall over once the heavy flowers bloom. But if you pinch each stalk every couple of weeks, the plants will stay relatively short and branch out creating a shrub-like appearance. This mound is just one plant! I love the combination of the yellow goldenrod and the purple Perilla behind it. This is my "tree trunk" garden in front of Pink Gardens.

After the yellow flowers of the goldenrod plant are done, they will turn into these silvery-beige and very fluffy seed pods. I found these on a hill leading to the train tracks. The ones in my yard won't reach this stage for another month or more.

I don't know the name of these "weeds" but I look forward to them each fall. They grow low along the ground, perhaps 12 inches high at the most, and erupt in these very teeny-tiny pink flower clusters once a few chilly nights have arrived. 


  1. Jewel weed ..who knew??? and very pretty too! I don't like seeing fall arrive (as the "dead" of winter comes next" BUT it does provide us with some amazing eye candy! Beautiful...thanks!

  2. I visited a farm just outside Chester, PA the other day with my little nieces. We saw pumpkins weighing at least 300 pounds as large as boulders. They weren't price that crazy, but what would you do with such a large thing to begin with? Make pies for 6 restaurants?

  3. I have no idea what one would do with such a huge pumpkin! Around here they enter then in contests. I think it's cheating if you buy one though, lol.